Hot euro-on-euro action!

Last month, I stumbled across the eXile, Moscow’s alternative paper written largely by expats driven by American xenophobia, culture shock, homesickness and the fact that communism tends to turn places into joyless hellholes. What it lacks in journalistic standards — consider their current contest: whoever guesses the date closest to the American invasion of Iraq wins an hour with one of the prostitutes featured on page 23 — it more than makes up for in hilarity that makes you feel slightly guilty for laughing.

Anyone who’s done a little travelling is probably aware that Europeans generally perceive Americans as bloodthirsty, greedy gun nuts who make lousy beer. This is why the Lonely Planet set often do un-American things such as sew Canadian flags on their backpacks and maybe even attempting to learn a few phrases in the local blabber before hiking across Europe.

What a lot of people don’t know is that Europeans hold their neighbours — Europeans other than themselves, that is — in equal, and possibly greater, contempt. While the worst thing the Americans did to most Europeans is flood them with bad food (Spam during the Marshall Plan, McDonald’s today), Europeans have been raping and pillaging each other since the earliest days, when the rivalries were between villages, not nations (this sort of rivalry continues today). I’m surprised that the word “neighbour” doesn’t have a secondary use as an insult in most European languages.

The eXile have done a little research — and I use the term “research” very loosely — and the result is a feature article called 18 Ways to Hate Your Neighbor. Here’s an excerpt from the introduction:

Bigotry and hatred are the bread and water of European life. This isn’t a vague, impersonal hatred; rather, it’s a profoundly evolved, carefully tailored hatred, a SMART Hatred if you will, tailored as tightly as a Swiss banker’s shirt towards the village over the hill, where your bosom enemies live.

Through hard and thorough research (ie., by pouring beer into the throats of selected Europeans and letting them rant), the eXile has managed to isolate and map the 18 fundamental hatred genomes that Europeans carry towards their neighbors—the RNA strand of Euro-hatred, if you like.

So put away your Lonely Planet guides, and pick up your Euro-Bigotry primer. It’s because of European hatred that the biggest massacres in human history have taken place. And the wonderful thing is, in spite of all the post-war European talk of peace and understanding, all the bigotries still live on, waiting for the day when they can transform Europeans back from harmless disco-dancing buffoons into the murderous village brawlers they once were, and may someday be again.

You should probably take any primer on Europe that makes liberal use of the word “Eurofag” with a grain of salt, but there’s quite a bit of truth in the article and the accompanying charts.

I’m just surprised that the increasingly popular Simpsons description of the French, cheese-eating surrender monkeys, doesn’t appear at all.


Coderman can’t resist

Martin “Coderman” Peck can’t resist poking fun at my Microsoft-style fake “Switch” testimonial. We’re both fans of the online comic Achewood, and we’ve both “sampled” it to make our own commentary. Here’s mine:

graphic: Fake Achewood comic: 'Do you think it is rad to make fake testimonials Ray'

and here’s Coderman’s.


A public service announcement for people who do not know the difference between "bawl" and "ball"

In the past couple of weeks, I have stumbled across a number of Web pages in which the word “ball” was used when author clearly meant to use the word “bawl”. The misuse is always the same:

I balled my eyes out.

Many people make this mistake. See for yourself.

“I balled my eyes out” is both incorrect and funny in a Beavis and Butthead sort of way. When “ball” is used as a verb, it means either “to form into a ball” or even better, it’s a vulgar slang term for “to have sex with”.

Of course, if you wrote that you “balled someone’s brains out,” you’re probably using “balled” correctly.

The correct way to write the phrase is:

I bawled my eyes out.

That’s because “bawl” means “to cry or sob loudly”.

Class dimissed.


This one’s for Stavros

The survivor of the bombing in Bali who has the fewest degrees of separation from me is Rick Gleason. He’s a friend of a fellow blogger, Chris “Stavros the Wonder Chicken” Kovacs, a hard-drinkin’ Canadian living in Korea who writes the weblog From his writings and a couple of e-mail exchanges, I know that Chris is a stand-up guy, and the reports about the kind of person his friend Rick are nothing short of glowing: a real go-getter with four degrees who spoke five languages, always ready to go somewhere. Rick was badly hurt in the explosion, sustaining burns to almost half his body and internal injuries. Chris is, understandably, quite shaken.

If you have the time, please send Chris — or anyone else you know who’s had a friend or relative hurt or killed in the blast — some words of sympathy.

If you have a little extra spending money, you can send it to the fund started for Rick at:

Brian L. Morris, in trust for Rick Gleason

c/o Bank of Montreal

111 Main Street

P.O. Box 4400 Whitehorse

Yukon Territory, Y1A 3T5 Canada

Transit #0998

or the Australian Red Cross’ Bali Appeal.

If you’re the praying or well-wishing type, I’m sure your prayers and wishes would be appreciated.

If you’re the drinking type, raise a glass for Rick and Chris, as well as all the victims and their families. At the very least, I know Rick and Chris would appreciate that very much.


A disagreement between gentlemen (or, “The Leftersons” revisted)

Here’s the meat of an entry of mine made on Tuesday, September 3rd, 2002:

Stupid online comic of the month

Just in case you thought only “The Left” were masters of ham-fisted witless diatribes attempting to pass for humour, may I present The Leftersons (“America’s favorite liberal family!”). The Leftersons are a nuclear family of sorts — there’s an unnamed Mom and Dad, a daughter named Hillary, and a son named Stalin (Leftersons cartoonist Colin Hayes is probably still slapping his knee over that witty little gem). There’s also a goldfish who plays the double role of being the only sensible (read: extremely conservative) member of the family and Greek chorus as well as Stalin’s pal Tommy, a sensible (read: extremely conservative) African-American (well, Stalin calls him “African-American”, to which he replies “You mean black?”) whose role models include Clarence Thomas, Thomas Sowell and Dr. Tony Evans.

Hayes’ line-drawing style is pretty good, and he owes it to the fact that he’s been drawing since the age of four. The problem is that it looks as though his writing style is stuck at that age, as he goes straight for “Liberals are stoopid, just ’cause” angle rather than spelling out his case. Sir, I’ve read lots of P.J. O’Rourke, and you’re no P.J. O’Rourke.

I still stand by my opinion — good drawing, bad joke-telling.

Earlier this evening, just before I went out to join my friends in some dancin’, drinkin’ and accordion playin’, an e-mail message from Leftersons artist Colin Hayes appeared in my inbox. Here it is (cut-and-pasted verbatim, with his permission):

Subject: goodbye cruel world

It’s time for me to end it all. I can no longer go on.

I read your review of my comic strip, The Leftersons, on your masterpiece of a webblog and…well…I’m crushed. Your opinion means more to me than life itself.

By the way, drawing “since the age of 4” has been good for an annual income into six figures a year…helping me to be the capitalist pig that I am.

So…the question I’m now facing is, do I take my life with a gun, a drug overdose, slitting my wrist…or reading more of your web site…

Considering how boorish the worlds of Internet dialogues and politics are, this was a downright civilized response in comparison. A tit-for-tat jab, a little sarcasm, no swearing and no ad hominem attacks.

And he had the good taste to acknowledge that this blog is a masterpiece. I’ll borrow a quote from Rush Limbaugh and say that thanks, but really, my talent’s on loan from God.

I wrote back:

Hey, I don’t like Garfield either, and Jim Davis is doing just fine. Looks like we’ll just have to agree to disagree.

May I reproduce your e-mail, as-is — I promise I will not alter a single word — in my weblog?

And he graciously replied in the affirmative, adding more evidence to my half-joking summary of the political spectrum: the Left are people with whom you agree but can’t stand, while the Right are people with whom you disagree, but would gladly invite to parties.

C’mon, Colin, you’ve got a gold mine of a target — the Left have such a gift for self-parody that your material could almost write itself! Hey, here’s some real-life ammo for you: the “Reclaim the Streets” rally (see the September 5th entry) recently held here in Toronto, or how ’bout this one about my housemate’s diet-as-religion ditching of dairy products (which isn’t terribly consistent — he had some cheesecake with me before he realized that it was dairy. Earth to Paul: cheesecake is made from cheese, and guess what cheese is made of!)? In Sacrelicious, I could’ve simply had a couple of Bible literalists go “hyuk hyuk hyuk, mah momma’s not a monkey!”, but instead I took the premise of trying to explain the universe to people from 1280 BC. Satire isn’t a blunt club swung wildly in the dark, it’s a carefully-aimed arrow with a finely honed point. Brush up on your right-wing funny and check out P.J. O’Rourke or the National Review’s Jonah Goldberg. I don’t agree with everything they write, but they’re always entertaining and make me think. This is all just a little friendly advice — take it or leave it, whatever pleases you. If you’re makin’ a buck doing what you love and pleasing your readers, more power to you.

As for my readers, what do you think? The Leftersons’ archives are here for your perusal.


My own "Switch" testimonial

Please Note: You might want to read this before continuing, otherwise you might not get the joke.

Title graphic: Confessions of an AccordionGuy convert. After reading Winer, Searls, MetaFilter, BoingBoing, diveintomark, kottke, EvHead, Wil Wheaton, busblog, Moxie, Mighty Girl and too many that end with 'Pundit', I switched to AccordionGuy. Why? He's fucking hot, that's why.'

Every other damned blog in the world to AccordionGuy: Mission Accomplished, Convert Thrilled

October 19, 2002

Yes, it’s true. I like The Adventures® of AccordionGuy® in the 21st Century® enough to change my whole blog-reading world around. Here’s the bottom line: The Adventures® of AccordionGuy® in the 21st Century® and its associated blog, The Happiest® Geek® on Earth® gives me the widest range of stories, from the serious to the silly, more choices and flexibility, and better compatibility with the technology world as well as people with lives.

AccordionGuy® relieved my fears about switching. I can still use the same browser and continue to read in the same convenient English® language in which those other, lesser blogs are written in. All my hardware — including my eyes, contact lenses, and the lower lip that I bite with sexual excitement whenever I read a well-crafted piece by an attractive single man — works perfectly when I read The Adventures® of AccordionGuy® in the 21st Century®.

To my surprise, the process of switching was as easy as Joey had promised. I was up and running in less than one day, Girl Scout’s honor (I got a merit badge in “advanced spanking”). First, let me tell you more about why I converted.

More Stories, for Less Surfing

I am a freelance writer; that means I have a lot of spare time. There’s a much greater choice of stories and features, for less surfing, on the AccordionGuy® platform. My laptop came with 512 MB of RAM, and after reading AccordionGuy®, so did I!


Anyways, AccordionGuy® covers current events, technology, humour, music, and life-in-general all in his two weblogs — to get that kind of range in other blogs, you’d have to read a pile of them, plus the assorted rantings of some messed-up LiveJournal kids writing their “nobody loves me” poetry after they’ve huffed a few too many household solvents. My recommendation is to go straight to AccordionGuy® Professional with features both The Adventures® of AccordionGuy® in the 21st Century® and The Happiest® Geek® on Earth®; the extra features for people with time to kill are worth it. See Which Edition is Right for You? for more information.

More Blogware Flexibility

Doc Searls (previously called Medical Student Searls) pales in comparison to AccordionGuy®. There’s no equivalent to the Stagette story, and while Doc says that no one can keep more balls on the ground than he does, Joey can keep at least two balls in the air. When he’s juggling, maybe even more.

The Happiest® Geek® on Earth® does more for me than Hack the Planet ever did, and I am a surfing addict. He updates more; the comments feature makes it easier for me to have a dialogue with him, and “Joey” appears before “Wesley” in my “Favorites” list.

And Now for the How

Now that I’ve given you the reasons why I converted, here’s the skinny on the how.

Which Edition is Right for You?

Just get The Adventures® of AccordionGuy® in the 21st Century® and The Happiest® Geek® on Earth®, jackass.

Step 1: Delete those old bookmarks for the other, lesser blogs.

In Internet Explorer, open the Favorites menu and right-click on any blog that isn’t either The Adventures® of AccordionGuy® in the 21st Century® and The Happiest® Geek® on Earth®. A pop-up menu will appear; select Delete. You should see a dialog box that looks something like this:

Screen shot: Yes/No dialog box that reads 'Are you sure you want to delete the reverse cowgirl's weblog?'

Click Yes. Now repeat this for every other blog that is neither The Adventures® of AccordionGuy® in the 21st Century® and The Happiest® Geek® on Earth®.

In Mozilla, open the Bookmarks menu and select Manage Bookmarks…. Highlight any blog that isn’t The Adventures® of AccordionGuy® in the 21st Century® and The Happiest® Geek® on Earth® and hit the delete key.

Step 2: Add The Adventures® of AccordionGuy® in the 21st Century® and The Happiest® Geek® on Earth® to your bookmarks.

Visit The Adventures® of AccordionGuy® in the 21st Century®, In Internet Explorer, select Add to Favorites… from the Favorites menu. In Mozilla, select Bookmark This Page… from the Bookmarks menu. Do the same for The Happiest® Geek® on Earth®.

Step 3: Say nice things about The Adventures® of AccordionGuy® in the 21st Century® and The Happiest® Geek® on Earth® to your bookmarks.

Talk about how astute he is. Say that he’s a handsome, dashing dude with his head screwed on straight. Say that he is an integral part of your shower-nozzle fantasies. Say his name, baby, say it!

Step 4: Say slanderous things about the other bloggers

Spread evil rumors about them. Make jokes about Jason Kottke’s hair — something like “I hear the stockboy at the grocery nearly stamped his head when he stood too close to the Kiwi fruit!”. Say that you saw Moxie trying to sneak nine items in the “eight items or less” lane — and suspiciously-shaped vegetables, too, if you get my drift (nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more). Maybe something like “That Aaron Swartz kid has joined a violence gang!”, “That Anil Dash — did you know that he sniffs other people’s bicycle seats?”, or “I hear that Lileks, Tony Pierce and Richard Gere go to the same gerbil wholesaler.” And these are the suggestions that wouldn’t bring legal action — let your imagination go wild!

Do you have an idea for a story? We’d love to hear from you. How have you used The Adventures® of AccordionGuy® in the 21st Century® and The Happiest® Geek® on Earth® to make your home, work or sex life easier, more fun, faster, simpler or less biologically messy? Submit your ideas, and you could get published on this Web site!

Special thanks in advance to all those whose blogs I named for taking it in the spirit in which it was intended.

Okay, subconscious, what are you trying to tell me?

Two nights ago, I had a dream where I was living in Prague. Last night I had a dream in which my friend Cory Doctorow was passing the lease for his SoHo loft over to me. Cory doesn’t even live in New York — he’s in the city he likes to refer to as “San Fran-scarcity”.

(Cory: in case you were wondering, it was a damned fine loft on Prince Street, atop a building with those banners that seem to hang from every building in SoHo. I must say that when I dream, I always get kick-ass real estate.)

As I was typing the last sentence, I was trying to think of why the loft would be on Prince Street. It could be the fact that I usually end up there whenever I go to New York, or perhaps it’s my desire for a new iBook — an Apple Store opened on Prince Street just recently.

I think I’ve been bitten by the travel bug. A pity travel isn’t in the cards, given my financial situation.